January 7, 2010
Oldest Hebrew Writing Found, Deciphered
Israeli archaeologists reported on Thursday that they had deciphered what they believe to be the oldest known Hebrew writing "“ a 3,000 year-old inscription discovered 18 months ago in the same location the Bible says David slew Goliath.
The pottery shard contained five lines of text in the proto-Canaanite script used by Hebrews, Philistines and others in the region during that time.Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa decrypted the writing.
Mr. Galil "has shown this is a Hebrew inscription," said the university in a statement.
"The discovery makes it the earliest known Hebrew writing," read a statement from the university.
The archaeologists used carbon dating to show that the inscription dates back to the 10th century BC, or about one millennium older than the Dead Sea scrolls.
"This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans," Galil told the AFP news agency.
Both the concepts and the words used in the inscriptions were specific to the Hebrew language and society, he said.
The shard was discovered roughly 18 miles west of Jerusalem near the gate of a site known as Elah Fortress, in the valley where the battle of David and Goliath is said to have occurred.
According to the university's statement, such early Hebrew inscriptions make possible the idea that the Bible could have been written hundreds of years before current estimates.
"The inscription is similar in its content to biblical scriptures, but it is clear that it is not copied from any biblical text."
Images Courtesy University of Haifa
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